Solar Eclipse 2017
On Aug. 21, the United States will experience “The Great American Eclipse” — an event nearly a century in the making. As the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire country since 1918, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime celestial spectacle. Those within the 70-mile-wide line of totality, which starts in Oregon and ends in South Carolina, will get to witness up to 2 minutes, 40 seconds of darkness.
In this series, we’ll spotlight a few of the best viewing locations along the path, including Idaho Falls, ID, Casper, WY, Nashville, TN and Greenville, SC. Whether you travel to your preferred city the weekend before or turn the trip into a weeklong summer vacation, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in each locale.
Viewing Location Spotlight: Idaho Falls, ID
One of the best viewing areas along the path is in Idaho Falls, ID. Fly into Salt Lake City, UT, where you can pick up a vehicle from Advantage Rent A Car and set out for an unforgettable family adventure in the Gem State.
About three hours north of Salt Lake City International Airport, Idaho Falls offers unobstructed views across crystal-clear skies for about 1 minute, 48 seconds of totality. Designated viewing locations include Old Butte, Tautphaus Park, Freeman Park and Community Park. In addition, the Museum of Idaho is a preferred NASA viewing site.
The museum also features a special interactive touring exhibit from NASA titled Space: A Journey to our Future, where visitors can touch actual meteorites from the moon and Mars, take a spin on a human-powered centrifuge and much more. Plus, representatives from NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will be onsite at the exhibit from Aug. 18-21.
Leading up to the big event, Eastern Idaho is hosting a weekend of pre-eclipse festivities, which include the Mutt Strut 5K, auto racing at Noise Park, Cosmic Night swimming at the Wes Deist Aquatic Center, Idaho Falls Farmers’ Market, Duck Race, Brothers Osborne concert, and extended hours at the Idaho Falls Zoo.
Whether you arrive in town a few days beforehand or stay and play after the eclipse, Idaho Falls offers plenty of fun outdoor activities. Get up close with black bears, grizzly bears, elk, bison, moose and more at Yellowstone Bear World drive-through wildlife park, which also includes a petting zoo with free-roaming barnyard animals and amusement rides. For an additional charge, you can bottle-feed bear cubs! For more native wildlife, visit Zoo Idaho.
Have a splashing good time at Rexburg Rapids or Ross Park Aquatic Complex, or take a relaxing dip in Lava Hot Springs, which also offers a summer water park and indoor aquatic center, or Heise Hot Springs, which features an adrenaline-pumping zipline tour. Picnic in one of Idaho Falls’ many parks, such as McCowin Park, Porter Park, Ross Park or Sportsman Park.
Ride up to the 9,862-foot summit of Fred’s Mountain on the Dreamcatcher chairlift at Grand Targhee Resort, where you can also explore the Tetons and Caribou-Targhee National Forest by horseback. Experience a Wild West shootout, horse-drawn carriage ride, barbecue and more at the Mountain River Ranch’s Summer Dinner Theatre.
Idaho Falls has indoor activities to keep the family entertained, too. Let the kids get creative at the ARTitorium on Broadway, which features a motion wall, creation stations, green-screen studio, stop-motion animation stations, magnet wall and more. Better yet, get your family workout on with indoor rock climbing at The Edge Climbing and Fitness center.
No matter where your Idaho Falls adventure takes you, the Gem State can help create countless family memories that will last a lifetime.
Solar Eclipse Fun Facts
- A solar eclipse occurs when the sun, moon and Earth are in exact alignment.
- The year the last total solar eclipse was visible in the United States was 1979 — in just five states. The total solar eclipse of 2017 will pass through 12 states, from coast to coast.
- While the sun and moon appear to be the same size during a total solar eclipse, this is an illusion. The sun is 400 times wider than the moon and 400 times farther away, so they only coincidentally appear the same size.
- The faint light that appears around the moon during a total solar eclipse is part of the sun’s outmost atmosphere, called the corona.
- Wildlife can be confused by totality. As the sky grows dark and resembles twilight, you may hear roosters crowing and grasshoppers chirping.
Written by: Angie Lewis